Liberalisation has had many effects. Not the least, an upwardly mobile middle class, that aspires to international standards. It is a market that media companies have found fertile. Take Outlook Traveller, a full-fledged magazine looking to tap this market, or the feature pages devoted to hotels and travel in all major newspapers, and shows like Style South Asia on CNN, and Trend Mill on CNBC. However, underlying the success of such ventures has been a cheery economy, where consumers are willing to spend on leisure, and corporations are willing to sink some of their profits into advertising that keeps such ventures going. The question now is how they would fare in a gloomy future.
Trend Mill on CNBC completes one year.
One year in which so much has changed. Much of it for the worse - an economy in recession, advertisement revenues a trickle, and both Television Eighteen (TV18), which has a 49 per cent stake in CNBC India and operates the channel, and Sony Entertainment Channel (SET) which distributes it, facing uncertain times.
Yet the programme is trying to live up to its reputation of a feature magazine on television. For its first anniversary, the channel has lined up a special episode that will be aired today (Thursday, November 8 at 1730 hrs and 2230 hrs, Indian Standard Time). The special edition will have a preview of Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding"; a Power Drive featuring the Hyundai Tornado, interviews with cine stars Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, music conductor Zubin Mehta, sportsmen Saurav Ganguly, Zaheer Khan, Baichung Bhutia and racing track star Narain Karthikeyan, media personality Riz Khan and director Mira Nair
Analysts say that the show had taken advantage of the gap for a TV magazine on the business of entertainment and lifestyle. That is its advantage, and could also be its weakness. "Such shows depend on advertising, which is the first thing to be cut in bad times. The show was launched at a very different time. The year ahead will be much tougher," points out a senior media planner.
CNBC India, which is distributed by Sony Entertainment Television, gets 75 per cent of its revenues through advertising while the balance, since it is a pay channel, is through subscription. CNBC India is a service of Dow Jones and NBC brought to India by the joint venture between TV18 and CNBC Asia. And times have not been good for both TV 18 and SET. In the last few months, TV 18 has let go 25 employees and put into effect a series of cost cutting measures, for example, asking departmental heads to compulsorily lop 20 per cent off their operating costs. And distributor SET's advertising revenues have dipped by nearly 10 per cent since last year, to Rs 380 crore in the current financial year.
CNBC, which went in for vertical programming earlier this year, is crucially dependent on advertisement revenue, and claims an audience greater than that of any other English news channel. It is the very same articulate, educated, English speaking class that could be most affected by the economic downturn, and decide to invest rather than spend - and that could affect advertising budgets. However, Anuradha Sen Gupta, associate features editor, CNBC India, and the producer of the programme is optimistic. She feels that the programme has carved a special niche by going beyond the surface and providing a "serious platform" for the entertainment business. "The idea is to go beyond show biz and the good life, to understand how this industry worth thousands of crores of rupees operates and the ideas, creative energy and people who drive it," says Sen Gupta. Sen Gupta's optimism is backed by figures.
McKinsey expects the Indian entertainment industry, currently worth about US$ 3.5 billion to grow to US$ 6.5 billion by the year 2005. Another bright spot is that while an estimated 30 million households subscribe to cable services currently, at least 46 million households will subscribe to cable and satellite services by the year 2005 (according to studies by HSBC and BNP Peregrine).
All that is in the future, but right now, the channel is hoping that the upwardly mobile will like to spend even when the chips are down, and keep that crucial advertising money flowing in.
© agencyfaqs! 2001